How Pre-Workout Supplements Are Slowing You Down | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for Our FREE Newsletter.

How Pre-Workout Supplements Are Slowing You Down

November 26, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Nutrition Videos

If you've ever visited a nutrition or supplement store, you've been bombarded with advertisements for the latest and greatest pre-workout supplements. At one time or another, you might have parted with some hard-earned cash to see what all the fuss was about.

As expected, the first time you tried it, the supplement probably gave you an initial boost, supercharging your central nervous system and leading to a great workout. (Find out which supplements are safe.) But eventually—three, five or 10 workouts down the line—that initial feeling wore off, and you were forced to double or even triple the dose to get close to the same "high" you first experienced.

With continued use, many athletes inevitably get to the point where they feel that they can't work out without their pre-workout supplement. Then, a vicious cycle begins, where they need a stimulant just to feel normal and get through the work day and their daily gym session or practice.

The problem with stimulants, which are found in many pre-workout supplements, is that you're trading off a temporary high for the inevitable low that comes later, overworking your adrenal glands in the process. High doses of caffeine and stimulants such as 1,3 dimethylamylamine prevent your adrenal glands from ever truly getting a break, to the point where your mood, energy levels and sports performance suffer.

At the extreme, numerous reports linking stimulants in energy drinks to deaths have been leading newscasts across North America over the last few weeks. (I'm looking at you Monster and 5-Hour Energy.)

Some days, a caffeine boost may be necessary, but in most cases you can feel just as energized by taking care of your body and letting it perform as intended.

Alternatives to Stimulants

Proper Nutrition. Give your body the fuel it needs through proper nutrition, with balanced meals preceding and following exercise. A balanced approach includes equal amounts lean protein (fish, chicken breast) and quality carbohydrates (quinoa, oatmeal, rice), with a salad and a small amount of olive oil. It's also best to eat or drink 100 calories of fast-acting carbs, such as a banana or Gatorade Prime, 15 minute before your workout. (Learn more about pre-workout nutrition.)

Sleep. Stimulant use, especially later in the day, can cut into your sleep duration and quality. Cut all stimulants after 5:00 p.m., and aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.

Tea. One or two cups of coffee a day is fine, but a good alternative is tea, especially later in the day. It has a quarter of the caffeine and is loaded with healthy antioxidants. My personal favorite is green tea.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Should I Take Creatine?

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

How to Select a Healthy Protein Bar

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

3 Tips on Choosing the Best Post-Workout Creatine

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Right For You?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

The 5 Most Effective Supplements for Baseball Players

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

Creatine Supplements: Benefits, Concerns, Types and Dosage

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

"Real" Fat-Burner Supplements

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts